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Full text of "The Secret of a strong personality"

THE SECRET 

OF A STRONG 

PERSONALITY 




BY 
DR. JAMES L. GORDON, D.D, 

Author of 

"AlFs Love, Yet All's Law" 

Published by E. O. Weber, 163 King St. W. 
Berlin, Ontario 













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The Secret of a Strong 
Personality 

There are many echoes but few 
voices, many islands but few continents, 
many mountain ranges but few great 
towering mountain peaks, many parties 
but few leaders, many captains but few 
generals, many politicians but few 
statesmen, and millions of people but 
few strong, outstanding personalities. 
When the truly great man arrives, we 
have no difficulty in recognizing him — 
he creates criticism. The test of a per- 
sonality is in its power to create and 
conquer criticism. If you can create 
criticism and then conquer it you be- 
come a hero. Thus heroes are born 
and thus we become hero worshippers. 
Tennyson remarked in his grand old 
age: "When I heard that Byron was 
dead I thought the world was at an 
end. " He was a hero worshipper. Be- 
hold Eobert Burns in his youthful en- 
thusiasm kissing the grave of Eobert 
Bruce. Even Alexander said. "If I 
were not Alexander I would be Dio- 
genes." 

Personality is everything. Saunder- 
son, the dying agnostic, exclaims : ' ' God 
of Sir Isaac Newton, have mercy on 
me!" And the little girl who was 
charmed by Whitefield's preaching, 
much of which she felt but little of 
which she understood, cried out in her 
dying hour: "Take me to Whitefield's 
God." Personality is everything. One 
great Scottish philosopher has said: 
"History is nothing more than a hand- 
ful of brilliant biographies." 

When I was in England, this summer, 
I discovered that there were four things 
which would " fetch' ' an audience 



2 SECRET OF A STRONG PERSONALITY 

every time. To-day, four things find a 
responsive chord in every English audi- 
ence of the middle class. In the first 
place every reference to " Peace " 
"brought down the house" instantly. 
The British people are tired of war. 
Tired of paying for battleships which 
never battle and tired of supplying uni- 
forms for soldiers who never fight. The 
British workingman has made up his 
mind that War is a game played by 
the diplomat in favor of the capitalist. 
That is, such capitalists as have their 
billions invested in military and naval 
hardware. The workingmen of the 
world have made up their minds that 
it is social insanity for working men 
to shoot down workingmen in the name 
of patriotism. The hard-headed sons of 
toil are asking the question if national 
flags and imperial emblems are such 
expensive luxuries why we can't have 
one universal ensign for all humanity 
and save the expense of fighting for 
little flags which float over only a por- 
tion of the race. So these men stand 
for peace, shout for peace, cheer for 
peace and applaud for peace. 

A very favorite subject with an 
English audience is — the Land ques- 
tion. "The land, the land, 'twas God 
who gave the land." Why should a 
man possess more land than he will 
ever be able to walk over. Why 
should thousands of acres of land be 
fenced in and w T alled about to provide 
pleasure gardens for the spoiled chil- 
dren of a dying aristocracy? Why 
should not the men who build bridges, 
construct canals, erect edifices, manu- 
facture furniture, produce food and 
weave the fabrics worn by the world 
possess a green sod on the mother earth 
before they sleep beneath it? Why 



SECRET OF A STRONG PERSONALITY 3 

should the stars be free and the earth 
mortgaged? Why should fields of 
flowers, lakes of beauty, beds of fern, 
cloisters of trees, forests of solitude, 
and a thousand of nature's sunny 
nooks be shut in by solid masonry and 
gates of steel? The land question will 
not down. Every reference to it stirs 
the English blood. Every allusion to 
it stirs an English crowd. There is a 
profound conviction in the Old Country 
that God has woven the green grass of 
our little planet for the weary feet of 
tired humanity. 

Another subject of popular consid- 
eration is nothing else than the im- 
perial possibilities of our fair Domin- 
ion — Canada looms large in the imagina- 
tion of the Britishers. And these are 
the facts which have arrested the at- 
tention of our kin in the Homeland. 
Canada, at first an outpost, has become 
a Dominion. The fourfold guarantee 
of Canada's future greatness is to be 
found in — a vast territory, an un- 
equalled climate, marvelous natural re- 
sources, and a steadily increasing pop- 
ulation. 

What a vast territory! Here is a 
land with the width of a continent, 
stretching from ocean to ocean, with 
mighty mountain ranges, rushing rivers, 
splendid inland seas, boundless prairies, 
and ten thousand new born towns and 
villages — no competitor on the north, a 
kindly neighbor on the south and on 
the east and west, the rolling seas of 
all history and prophecy. 

Canada contains one-third of the area 
of the British Empire; an area in ex- 
tent approaching the proportions of 
four million square miles. Her thirteen 
thousand miles of coast line equals half 
the circumference of the earth. A mil- 



4 SECRET OF A STRONG PERSONALITY 

lion square miles of unexplored terri- 
tory lies slumbering beneath the snows, 
northward. Her distances are mag- 
nificent and equal a pilgrimage from 
Rome to the North Pole or a voyage 
from London to Halifax. Canada is 
almost as large as Europe, thirty times 
as large as the British Isles, eighteen 
times as large as Germany, seventeen 
times as large as France, thirty-three 
times as large as Italy and twice as 
large as British India. Twenty-four 
Switzerlands could be laid out within 
her one province of British Columbia 
and not exhaust the territorial possibil- 
ities of the Canadian Alps. 

Canada has an unequalled climate. 
The breath of the north brings vigor 
and health. The land of the Maple 
Leaf is athrill with a distinguishing 
electrical quality. Here the day is ex- 
tended by Northern Lights which dis- 
play their glory in a rarefied at- 
mosphere, and here men may labor 
without exhaustion during twelve 
months of the year. 

Canada is well nigh inexhaustible in 
her natural resources. Here mineral 
treasures lie hid less than one hundred 
fathoms deep. Gold, silver, iron and 
every precious thing. Canada is the 
largest unprospected mining district in 
the world. Her deposits of nickel, 
corundum and asbestos are the richest 
in the world. Her coal beds extend 
from Manitoba boundary to the Peace 
River. We have the official assurance 
that in one single coal deposit in 
Northern Alberta there are, at least. 
66,000,000 long tons of coal. Here in 
the granite vaults of nature lie hid 
wealth untold and riches beyond human 
calculation. Food enough to feed a 
world! Wealth sufficient to build an 



SECRET Or A STRONG PERSONALITY 5 

Empi 

L,utJ r that the >ou> of men 

are looking toward Canada, the Jand of 
.the robust, the strong and the stalwart. 
Her population has increased at the rate 
oi oue tnousand a day. During the 
past ten years a million immigrants 
trom Great Britain and more than half 
a million American citizens have found 
homes of comfort and fields of labor 
within her boundaries. Last year, sev- 
enty thousand people left Scotland for 
this land of hope and prosperity. The 
purest stream of immigration which 
ever enriched the soil of a new world — 
bringing traditions of the motherland 
and memories of the homeland — speak- 
ing the language of William Shake- 
speare and John Milton and held to- 
gether by the invisible ties of race, 
religion and literature. 

A territory vast and unexplored. A 
climate invigorating and full of health! 
Resources boundless and undisturbed! 
An incoming tidal wave of Anglo-Sax- 
ons, ambitious and strong! — These 
facts speak eloquently of "the high 
destiny of the Dominion of Canada." 

A subject which always finds a 
responsive chord in the heart of 
a midale class English audience is any 
discriminating reference to the char- 
acter, ability or achievements of DA- 
VID LLOYD GEOKGE. Lloyd George 
is, by nationality, a Welshman; by pro- 
fession, a lawyer; by education, self 
instructed; by inheritance, a child of 
poverty; by skill acquired, a statesman; 
by necessity, a diplomat; by tempera- 
ment, an orator; by achievement, the 
Chancellor of the Exchequer, and, by 
nature, a democrat. He is, at this mo- 
ment, the most outstanding illustration 
of ta# power and possibility of a strong 



6 SECRET OF A STRONG PERSONALITY 

personality. 

Personality is everything! But what 
is personality? What is the secret of 
a strong personality? How does Lloyd 
George control? How does Woodrow 
Wilson manage? How does Theodore 
Koosevelt attract? How does William 
Jennings Bryan magnetize? How does 
"Billy" Sunday convert? How does 
Gypsy Smith hypnotize? In this chap- 
ter we purpose (1) To state and illus- 
trate what personality "is not." (2) 
To state and illustrate what are the 
elements which enter into a strong per- 
sonality. (3) To indicate the highest 
possible use which can be made of 
strength of personality after it has been 
achieved. Of course, every person has 
personality — when we speak of person- 
ality as an achievement we have refer- 
ence to the strength, fibre and calibre 
of personality. 

WHAT PERSONALITY IS NOT. 

1. Personality is not the measure of 
a man's social standing or the reflec- 
tion of any honorable position, social, 
political or ecclesiastical. When George 
IV. sat on the throne of England, Sir 
Walter Scott reigned in the hearts of 
the British people. Who was the mon- 
arch? Who was the sovereign? Who 
was the king? Which of the two pos- 
sessed personality? The poet, Byron, 
was ten years old when he became a 
"lord," and had conferred upon him 
all the social advantages of a title and 
an estate. Three days after this event 
he suddenly addressed his mother, say- 
ing: "Mother, do you see any differ- 
ence in me since I became a lord? I 
certainly do not." He saw, as with 
the eye of genius, through the shallow 
superficialities of the social realm. The 
shell of the social nut was not worth 



SECRET OF A STRONG PERSONALITY 7 

the' cracking — to him. The most un- 
satisfactory member of the race is the 
man who possesses social position and 
yet lacks personality. 

2. A strong personality does not de- 
pend on material prosperity or commer- 
cial success. Job reached the highest 
point in personality when his money 
had disappeared, when his property had 
been swept away, when his children had 
died, when his wife had lost all hope 
for him and when his neighbors were 
convinced that he was a hypocrite — 
then he rose superior to "fate, " "des- 
tiny" and circumstances. Listen to his 
words: "I have no hope, nevertheless, 
I will maintain my ways before Him." 

3. A strong personality is not the re- 
sult of fame, notoriety or popular repu- 
tation. A person may be "noted" 
without being notable. A newspaper 
reporter said to "Sam" Jones: "Mr. 
Jones, you ought to treat us reporters 
well — you owe a good deal to the news- 
papers — the newspapers made you." 
The Southern evangelist replied, with 
a knowing twinkle in his eye: "If the 
newspapers made me, tell them to go 
ahead and make another 'Sam' Jones 
just like me. ' ' In the last analysis no 
newspaper can write a man "up" or 
write a man "down." If a man is 
right, the newspapers can't keep him 
down, and if a man is wrong, all the 
newspapers in Christendom can't hold 
him up. Character will out. 

4. Personality is not a matter of 
health or splendid physical proportions. 
Cassius had "personality" but Caesar 
said, concerning Cassius: "Yon Cas- 
sius hath a lean and hungry look. He 
thinks too much." Eobert Murray Mc- 
Chaine used to thrill Scotland with his 
eloquence when he had hardly physical 



S SECRET OF A STRONG PERSONALITY 

strength sufficient to stand up in the 
pulpit. God very often puts big brains 
into a slender skull. There are frail 
men who think in every joint and inch 
of their anatomy. Men must be weigh- 
ed as well as counted and the part that 
must be weighed resides just over the 
eyes and between the ears. Give me 
a pair of brain scales and I will tell 
you who the strong men are. There are 
physical heavy weights who never suf- 
fered from mental nervousness. The 
mind is the measure of the man. The 
man who can put two thoughts to- 
gether and produce an intellectual sul- 
phur point sufficient to strike a flame 
into the fuel of circumstances is the 
child of genius we are looking for. 

5. Personality is not merely a pleas- 
ing face and an attractive smile. A 
certain American college professor, of 
international reputation, has said that 
"the world will never be saved by 
tact. " Why should we aim to be 
popular. There are a score of things 
better than popularity. Stanley, tho 
explorer, was never popular with his 
men. Grant was not popular as a gen- 
eral. Wellington was never a "hail 
fellow well met." Popularity is a 
good dessert but a poor article of diet 
as a steady staple. To the ash can 
with vain longings for the approving 
smile of an unthinking world! Get re- 
sults! Power is better than popularity. 
WHAT PERSONALITY IS. 

1. Personally is a superabundance of 
intellectual life. We live in our heads, 
not in our heels. We live in the spirit, 
not in the flesh. Life is presonality. 
Personality is life. William the Con- 
queror, even in his dying hour, is 
feared by his servants. Even up to 
tho moment when the sceptre fall* from 



SECRET OF A SIliONG PERSONALITY. V 

his dead hand, they have a healthy 
dread or his power. But marK tiie mo- 
ment v\iien tne sceptre drops — tiien his 
servants uegin to roo his person and 
empty his treasury. iNapoieon stood 
over the eornn ol uredericK tne Great 
and wrote the initials ot his own name 
— *'N. te." — on the dust which had 
eilentiy lallen on the casket concainmg 
the remains of one ot the worm's 
greatest warriors; and then he sig- 
nincantly remarked: "If Frederick tne 
Gieat were anve I would not now be 
standing here/' I should thmK notl 
Ireuencji the Great is dead, tneretore 
Napoleon can make a plaything ot his 
comn. Personality is lire. A. strong 
personality inuicates a superabundant 
life. Charles .Lamb wrote to tne poet 
Wordsworth saying: "Coleridge lives 
about tour miies irom here, and the 
presence of such a man is equal to the 
innuence of titty persons 01 ordinary 
culture and ability. ,} A living man 
standing before living men will always 
be migntier, for an immediate ettect, 
than biack ink on white paper. 

Lite is the channel ot personality. 
Thought is the radium of personality. 
Culture is the perlume of personality. 
Magnetism is the electric thrill of per- 
sonality. Originality is the color of 
personality. ±orce is the fire of per- 
sonality. 

Ihe Ladder of St. Augustine is the 
ladder of personality — ' ' 1 Am. I know. 
I Can. I Ought. I Will. ' '— This is the 
ladder of personality. "I AM" — Con- 
sciousness. "I KNOW" — Intellect. 
1 ' I CAN ' '—The Will. < < I OUGHT ' '— 
The Moral Sense. "I WILL"— De- 
cision of Character. St. Augustine 
climbed that ladder. So may you. So 
may I. It is the ladder of personality. 



10 SECRET OF A STRONG PERSONALITY 

Climb it. 

2. There has never been a man of 
strong personality without intense con- 
victions. A conviction is a belief 
which grips the reason, crystallizes the 
will and fires the heart. A man's con- 
victions are of small value unless they 
are intense. The man of strong convic- 
tions is possessed by real love and real 
hate. In the soul of this man the light 
is bright and the shadows are dark. 
Good does not merge into evil or right 
shade into wrong. The psalmist was 
possessed of convictions which were 
clear, distinct and deep-rooted when he 
exclaimed: "Ye that love the Lord 
hate evil." 

You may criticize a man for being 
too positive, but it is only the positive 
man who wins. The preacher who is 
not sure of his theology makes few con- 
verts. The commercial traveller who is 
not sure of his goods brings back few 
orders. The political orator who is not 
sure of his points wins slender ap- 
plause. The lawyer who is not sure of 
his case had better let another plead 
his cause. The promoter who is not 
sure of his scheme will find few in- 
vestors. The general who can always 
see as many reasons for waiting as for 
fighting will never lead an army to 
victory. 

Most successful men, in their imma- 
ture years, were charged with being 
conceited. Conceit is not a bad char- 
acteristic. We may have too much of 
it or too little, but time will grind 
down your organ of conceit if it should 
be too conspicuous amid the phrenolog- 
ical hilltops. Better a bump on your 
head than a hole in your skull. Better 
too much self-reliance than too little. 
Have an idea or two of your own. 



SECRET OF A STRONG PERSONALITY 11 

Drive the nails deep into the platform 
of your creed. Don't be afraid to 
make good use of the personal pro- 
noun, liemember you have many noble 
examples. Paul, for instance: "I know 
whom I have believed." 

3. The man of strong personality is 
always characterized by feelings which 
are deep and emotions which are pro- 
found. The difference between man 
and man is very largely a 
matter of feeling. A man's 

feelings are more intense than 
his neighbor's, therefore, he is more 
plain, explicit and outspoken. George 
MacDonald was a lay reader in the An- 
glican church as well as an author of 
considerable ability and fame. He thus 
records the sensations and emotions 
which swept over him as he sat in a 
cathedral and listened to a sermon 
which had neither point, power or ap- 
plication: "The thoughts began to 
burn within me, and the words to come 
unbidden. I had almost to restrain 
myself from rising in the pew and 
ascending the pulpit stairs. I felt like 
asking the man in the pulpit, who evi- 
dently had nothing to say, to make 
room for one who had." Did you ever 
feel that way? Thank heaven if you 
have — £•* the sensation if not for the 
occasion of it. 

Dwight L. Moody once said to a 
friend of mine: "James, did you ever 
feel, when listening to a sermon, that 
you could rise, enter the pulpit, and do 
the thing better yourself?" My friend 
confessed that he had never felt the 
pressure of an inward conviction strong 
enough to make him wish that he could 
exchange places with a dry-as-dust 
theological expert occupying the pulpit, 
but evidently Mr. Moody had felt that 



12 SECRET Otf A STRONG PERSONALITY 

he would like to exchange places with 
the sleeping pulpiteer on more than one 
occasion. I it was that sensa- 

tion of a divine dissatisfaction which 
crowded young Moody out into the 
highways and hedges in order to reach 
the unsaved. Moody was the greatest 
iLustration of pent-up entnusiasm 
which the world has seen in two hun- 
dred years. 

1 nomas Oarlyle once remarked: 
"Had I but two shillings in tne world 
and one great idea, I should regard it 
as my duty to part with one shilling 
for paper and ink and live on the other 
shilling until I had expressed that 
idea. " Only a man possessed of strong 
personality could speak that way. 
Depth of feeling and strong personal- 
ity go together. Depth of feeling is 
the thing we look for in the writer, 
speaker and singer. There is something 
for which we are willing to go all 
lengths and pay the price. It is the 
touch of life — we call it "depths of 
feeling. ' ? 

4. r xhe man of strong personality, if 
he would bide the test of time, must be 
clear in his thinking. The greatest 
creative force is thought. One great 
idea in the soul of one great man means 
a new era for the race. You can carry 
a small, fine-print New Testament in 
your vest pocket, but the original ideas 
which it contains have revolutionized 
the world. Jesus is supreme, to-day, 
not because men have claimed that he 
was this or that, but because his 
thoughts, ideas and convictions have 
revolutionized the thinking of the race. 

No strong man is vague in his think- 
ing. John Wesley toiled for thirteen 
years before he knew that his soul was 
•aved* Those were fruitless years. 



SECRET OF A STRONG PERSONALITY 13 

How he wandered from pillar to post. 
How, "with fear and trembling, he tried 
to work out a salvation which he did 
not possess and which did not possess 
him. How sad and joyless was his ex- 
perience. He could not move the world 
because his heart was not fixed. He 
had not as yet entered into the convic- 
tion of God's love. Faith was yet to 
be born. But with faith came joy and 
with joy came conquest and victory. 

5. The man of strong personality is 
the man who develops a judgment of 
his own — and then acts on his own 
judgment. Gypsy Smith called on a 
well-known Brooklyn divine and, pre- 
senting credentials which spoke of his 
character, work and worth, asked that 
ho might have a hearing in the spaci- 
ous auditorium of the great preacher. 
The eloquent divine adjusted his 
glasses on the ridge of his nose and 
after making a thorough inspection of 
the physical proportions of the gypsy 
preacher, brought his lips together in 
a positive manner, replying: ''Mr. 
Smith, I guess I don't want you. " 
Gypsy Smith returned the D.D.'s stern 
expression with a look which was earn- 
est, sincere, determined and unembar- 
rassed, remarking: "Nevertheless, I 
think you do want me." The gypsy 
preacher was sure of his own judgment. 
He was convinced that he had a mes- 
sage for the people of Brooklyn and 
that the people of Brooklyn needed the 
message. And once the door of the 
great church was opened, multitudes 
flocked, night after night, to hear the 
singing and speaking of the Gypsy boy. 
He knew the quality of the goods 
which he carried. Should not the Chris- 
tian be as confident as Caesar when he 
said to the frightened boatman in thp 



14 SECRET OF A STRONG PERSONALITY 

storm and tempest: "Kemember, you 
carry Caesar and his fortunes." 

6. There has never been a command- 
ing personality who was lacking in de- 
cision of character. Melancthon said 
concerning Martin Luther: "In the 
midst of uncertainties he alone knew 
just what should be done." The law- 
yer who can find as many reasons 
against his client as he can in his 
favor had better not enter the court 
room. An "open mind" may be a 
good thing in a philosopher but it is 
a poor thing in a judge for the business 
of a judge is to reach a decision. They 
told General U. S. Grant that he could 
not advance on the enemy and at the 
same time hold his base of supplies. 
Grant replied that if the enemy ad- 
vanced on him and routed his men 
there would not be much need for "a 
base of supplies." They also charged 
Grant with sacrificing his men by his 
aggressive war measures, but Grant 
told his critics that men did not engage 
in war to "save lives," and proved 
that in the inaction of a sluggish cam- 
paign more lives were sacrificed 
through disease than by bloodshed. 

7. A powerful personality, in order 
to be broad in its sweep, should be per- 
meated with sympathies which are 
world wide and universal. Why should 
we be strong for ourselves? Why 
should we build a pyramid to the 
memory of our selfishness and then be 
buried in the heart of it? Why should 
we gather bonds and notes, gold and 
silver, diamonds and pearls and then 
leave them to mark the place of our 
departure? Why not be strong for 
some divine purpose? Brain without 
blood and intellect without love — how 
cold. Charles Kingsley's words are 



SECRET OF A STRONG PERSONALITY 15 

sweet and sympathetic: "I love the 
world, I love it now and I shall love 
it always." When the apostle exhorts: 
"Love not the world, neither the things 
which are in the world/ ' he is not try- 
ing to curb our love and affection for 
poor, wayward, sin-stricken humanity. 
The world needs our love. The men 
who have moved the world have been 
the men who have wept over it. How 
Henry Ward Beecher sobbed over his 
people. How Moody wept over the 
multitude. How George Whitefield bap- 
tized two continents with his tears. 
Oh, that God would give us the power 
to liquidize our thoughts. 

Personality is the great driving force. 
It is the throb in the pulse, the fire in 
the eye, the blood in the vein, the 
quicksilver in the brain, the lightning 
in the nerve, the electricity in the 
touch, the transfiguration in the face, 
the motion in the limb — the soul in 
action. How shall we develop person- 
ality? What is the secret of its power? 
Where shall we kindle its fire? What 
are the sources of its strength? Where 
are the unseen rivers of its supply? 
Personality is Life, Heart, Mind, Soul, 
Spirit— GOD. 

Do you not feel the thrill and throb 
of a divine pulsation in your own soul? 
Personality? You have it. Personal- 
ity? You possess it. The driving 
force is within you. Are you not con- 
scious of it? Disraeli makes one of his 
literary characters say (what doubtless 
he must have said of himself): "It 
seemed that I felt within me a power 
by which I could influence mankind!" 
And Margaret Fuller was striking the 
same note of universal experienc when 
she cried out: "I feel within myself an 
immense force — oh, that I could ex- 



16 SECRET OF A STRONG PERSONALITY 

press it! " 

Mark this: The greatest driving 
force is transmitted force. The great- 
est thing in prayer is not to get God 
to do something for you which you 
cannot do for yourself. The greatest 
achievement is to live so that God can 
work through you — to be the channel 
for the transmission of spiritual power. 
That's better than asking God for 
health, or friends, or increased compen- 
sation, or a better house to live in, or 
material prosperity for your children. 
Ask God for whatever you feel you 
need — but believe me — I am about 
through asking God for things. If I 
can get the highest blessing, even har- 
mony with the Most High, I shall have 
everything below the highest. If I 
seek the first and the highest, I shall 
certainly possess the last and the low- 
est. I wonder sometimes if God does 
not grow tired of our cry: "Give! 
Give! Give!" Especially when we 
ask for small things and things which 
we desire for ourselves and our chil- 
dren. Why not ask for the all inclusive 
first thing? Would you know the 
secret of power: "Be strong in the 
Lord and the power of His might." 
Would you be strong in the Lord and 
tFe power of His might: "Seek first 
the Kingdom of God." The greatest 
achievement is to live so that God can 
work through you.